Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Jan 2, 2020

Reflecting on the past is one of the best ways to plan for the future. Dean and I always take the time after Christmas to reflect on the previous year and set goals for the next. There are four questions we use to reflect, that drive the upcoming week, month, quarter, and year. To learn our strategy (and how we feel 2019 fared) listen to this episode of Just the Tips!

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:20] Starting the new year off right
  • [4:00] Planning for an entire year is unrealistic
  • [7:15] Focus on what went right and celebrate
  • [9:30] Double-down on your strengths
  • [12:30] How to structure your team meetings
  • [17:50] Strategic planning activities
  • [19:15] What James did right in 2019
  • [22:15] What Dean is proud of from 2019
  • [25:50] 4 Questions to guide the process
  • [26:20] What could’ve been better for James?
  • [28:50] What could’ve been better for Dean?
  • [31:00] Planning, reflection, and course-correction

Why an annual plan is unrealistic

I’ll be honest, there needs to be a little give and take when you try and make a plan for the upcoming year. Time is complex and there is no way to truly foresee what could happen. Things will be thrown your way that you can’t prepare for.

So make sure as you’re planning your expectations aren’t too rigid

Incorporate a measure of dynamic flexibility in your planning. Control what you can, but plan for the unexpected. Dean spent a chunk of his year working on his book—that he’s FINALLY completed—but didn’t expect the level of disasters that were thrown his way.

What came up shifted his timeline, but he still accomplished what he set out to do. 

A strengths-based approach is always the right move

I firmly believe that you need to stop focusing on improving your weaknesses. You will make the biggest strides in your life and business when you focus on your strengths and double down on what is working. You can go from being great at something to being the best

Wouldn’t you rather accomplish greatness instead of only becoming slightly less-than-mediocre at your weakness? 

We all have a superpower. Something that we excel at and do like no one else. So mitigate your weakness and stay in your zone of genius. Identify the strengths in others and build a team that leverages their strengths to make up for your weaknesses.

How to structure reflective team meetings

First of all, there is power in recognizing the fact that you cannot always be the smartest person in the room. It is beneficial to get input from 100% of your staff so you can hear everyone’s perspective about your year. 

I typically structure it by making a list of the questions I want my team to think over before the meeting. It gives them time to reflect and not put them on the spot. This allows for a more conversational—and less stressful—meeting. 

Above all, it’s important that everyone feels like they have a voice and that they’re contributing to the ongoing vision of the business. The meeting is extremely valuable for team-building and goal-setting.

Keep listening to hear what our big wins were this year, and where we missed the mark and want to improve in 2020. 

The 4 questions that help you reflect on the past year

There are 4 questions that we use to help guide the process both personally and in our businesses:

  1. What went really well? What am I proud of?
  2. What could’ve been better?
  3. What do we need to do more of?
  4. What do we need to do less of?

If you continue to ask yourself these questions consistently, you’ll start to catch issues before they go too far. You’ll limit your risk. If you’re not constantly course-correcting as you are carrying out your plan for the year, you won’t reach your destination. 

The planning and reflection cycle can make a world of difference. Listen to the whole episode as Dean and I walk through the process.

Resources & People Mentioned

Musicfor “Just The Tips” is titled, “Happy Happy Game Show” by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Connect With James and Dean

James P. Friel:

Dean Holland:

Audio Production and Show notes by